It was revealed on last night’s (July 1) episode of Dynamite that Jon Moxley’s defense of the AEW world championship against Brian Cage was postponed. Instead of headlining night two of Fyter Fest on July 8, the match was pushed back one week to July 15 at Fight for the Fallen.
Taz cut a promo where he painted Moxley as a coward who is staying away from AEW not because of health concerns, but because he is afraid of Brian Cage. In doing so, Taz took a swipe at the way WWE has responded to the global pandemic:
“Correct me if I’m wrong, Mox, but as you’re at home, you’ve been tested at home. Not once, but twice, and you’ve been negative on both. And if you decided to get your ass here to work next week, you would get tested again here in AEW, because Jon as you know, we don’t run a sloppy shop.”
The “sloppy shop” remark is clearly a reference to WWE’s terrible handling of the coronavirus pandemic, where they apparently went close to three months before even testing anybody for COVID-19. As a result, WWE is now dealing with an outbreak of the virus. Moxley’s wife, Renee Young, is one of their performers who was infected, and it has led to this situation where Moxley is missing multiple episodes of Dynamite. Taz’s criticism is likely an expression of AEW’s legitimate frustration with WWE’s unacceptable management of the pandemic, which is now adversely affecting AEW’s product.
On Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer provided more details behind Moxley being pulled from Fyter Fest:
“He’s gonna take three tests...but he had already pulled out of the show even before he got the (second) test result.”
“Taz’s promo essentially was exactly what [Moxley] said. It was like, ‘I don’t want to come here, and perhaps infect people and cause an outbreak, and let alone somebody gets really sick...’”
“It already happened with WWE, he didn’t want it to happen with AEW. He was cleared to come by AEW, but he did not come. So they’re holding it back a week.”
“It was absolutely his call not to come. They worked it out to where they’re going to do the match a week later...It will hurt next week in the ratings for sure. But there’s far more important things than one week of ratings, especially right now. It was the right call.”
Based on Meltzer’s explanation, it seems that AEW was cool with Moxley returning to wrestle Cage at Fyter Fest night two, which is scheduled to be taped today (July 2) and air next week (July 8). Thankfully Moxley showed better judgment than that, and held himself off this week’s Dynamite tapings. There’s no need to rush his return, and in the interest of making safety a priority, he shouldn’t have been there considering his recent exposure to COVID-19.
AEW should be careful here. Taz’s shot at WWE was justified, of course, and AEW has handled this pandemic far better than WWE. However, there is still plenty of risk involved in what AEW is doing by continuing to run shows during the pandemic, especially in Florida where COVID-19 appears to be out of control. There is a real scenario where they can find themselves with their own outbreak of COVID-19, even with a better testing system in place than WWE.
We’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope that Moxley is okay to return for the July 15 episode of Dynamite.